A Peculiar Glory

piperJohn Piper. A Peculiar Glory. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2016. 302 pp. $20.98

How is the Bible confirmed by the peculiar glory of God? This critical question is addressed in John Piper’s latest book, A Peculiar Glory. The book is written to nourish and edify followers of Christ and help bring clarity on the matter of biblical authority. Yet, initial reviews are troubling. One critic accuses Piper of “circular reasoning and arrogance.” In a Christianity Today review, Jason Byassee laments a “lack of charity” in Piper’s new book. And while he affirms that liberals and mainline denominations need “Christ-centered, biblically attentive doctrines of Scripture,” he doubles down in his critical review of Piper. “This book doesn’t quite fit that need” argues Byassee. I will argue, much to the contrary that not only does Piper succeed, he does it with grace, unmatched skill. Indeed, this work will leave a significant mark that will be difficult to surpass.

Peculiar Glory gives readers an inside look into the words of the Westminster Larger Catechism (Question 4): “The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God, by … the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God.”

Readers will discover the glory that occupies Piper’s attention (and should occupy ours as well) is the glory of Jesus Christ. Piper argues there is “an essence or a center or a dominant peculiarity in the way God glorifies himself in Scripture.” He observes that God glorifies himself in “working for those who wait for him, through fulfilled prophecy, the miracles of Jesus, and through Scripture-shaped lives of radical love. That dominant peculiarity is the revelation of God’s majesty through meekness.” And in the final analysis, we learn that the most intense aspect of God’s glory shines brightest in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has died for sinners and was raised and seated at the right hand of God the Father.

Piper’s conclusion is simple: “The Bible has final authority over every area of our lives and that we should, therefore, try to bring all our thinking and feeling and acting into line with what the Bible teaches.” He admits this is a massive claim of epic proportions:

The Bible is not the private charter of a faith community among other faith communities. It is a total claim on the whole world. God, the creator owner, and governor of the world, has spoken. His words are valid and binding on all people everywhere. That is what it means to be God. And to our astonishment, his way of speaking with unique, infallible authority in the twenty-first century is through a book. One book. Not many. That is the breathtaking declaration of the Christian Scriptures.

Piper’s concluding argument is laced with precision and resolve:

Only the divine ‘light of the gospel of the glory of Christ’ transforms the soul. Only divine light yields certainty that secures the soul for a life of love through the worst sufferings. Only the sight of God’s glory in his inspired word gives certainty to the simplest and the most educated person.

I commend A Peculiar Glory to followers of Christ who want to gain a deeper understanding of God’s word. This book will no doubt ground many believers in the deep soil of God’s grace and help nourish many souls so that God’s peculiar glory will manifest itself in their lives.

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